Steane Klose | Sep 1, 2008

Not even Toyota is above feeling some of the pain being felt by automotive manufacturers in these recent troubled times. Reports from the Big T reveal that 2009 sales forecasts will be dropped from 10.4 million to 9.7 million in response to decreasing demand. It's not all bad though: 9.7 million units will still be an increase of 2.1 percent for Toyota over the 2008 year.

Interestingly, Toyota will be looking to developing markets, such as those in China, India, Brazil, and Russia, to continue sales growth, as markets in Europe and the US continue to lose momentum.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe explained some of the challenges facing the Japanese marque:

"The business environment is rapidly becoming more difficult. Things remain very uncertain, not just in the United States but in emerging countries and resource-rich nations as well. Given the price of gasoline and the economic situation it is quite difficult to imagine a dramatic improvement in the Japanese market."

The reduced forecast comes after Toyota had already dropped its 2008 global sales target to 9.5 million vehicles, down from 9.85 million. This indicates Toyota may have to wait a little longer before surpassing GM's 1978 record of 9.55 million car and truck sales worldwide.

Despite the disheartening news, Toyota is still performing better than its nearest competitor, GM, which has closed plants and cut jobs in an effort to stifle its $A18.07billion second quarter loss this year.

For the first time in three decades, Toyota will look at increasing the price of some Japanese passenger vehicles in response to soaring materials costs, but Mr Watanabe understands the possible ramifications of such a move in a local market that's already suffering.

"We must ensure that the market does not shrink as a result of price hikes. Therefore we have decided to limit the number of models that would be affected."

While Toyota may not be performing at its peak, Mr Watanabe sees the downturn as a chance to revamp operations to improve efficiency across the board. This initiative, coupled with the determination evident in the giant Japanese manufacturer, may see Toyota evolve into an indomitable force in years to come. Watch out GM.

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